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Review: Bushnell Tour X Jolt

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Pros: Stunningly simple to use despite its slew of premium features. Gear heads and tournament players will love Bushnell’s new Exchange Technology, which allows users to switch the rangefinder from a slope-and-distance device to a tournament-legal, distance-only device.

Cons: It’s fractionally larger and heavier than its competition, Leupold’s GX-4i2.

Who’s it for? If you don’t mind spending top dollar ($499) on a rangefinder, this is the one you buy. The Tour X is best for golfers who want a highly accurate, easy-to-use laser rangefinder and are interested in learning more about the way elevation changes affect their shots.

The Review

IMG_7311

The Tour X in Slope Mode.

  • Accuracy: 0.5 yards (0.1 yards from 5-100 yards)
  • Range: 5-1300 yards (450+ yards to a flag)
  • Magnification: 6x
  • Rainproof: Yes
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Battery Included: Yes (CR2)

Bushnell’s Tour X Jolt rangefinder is a testament to how far rangefinder design has advanced in recent years, offering golfers Bushnell’s best premium features while keeping operation as simple as possible.

The newest and most noteworthy of the Tour X’s features is its Exchange Technology, which uses removable face plates (one red, one black) to allow the rangefinder to function as a two-in-one product.

Install the red face plate, which covertly connects to a USB port on the front of the device, and the rangefinder can calculate straight-line distance to a target, as well as distance that calculates “slope,” or how far uphill or downhill a shot is “playing.” Please note that this mode does not conform to the rules of golf, but is used by many golfers — including top professionals — to learn more about the courses they play before they tee it up in tournaments.

IMG_7315

In case you need a reminder that Slope Mode doesn’t conform to the rules of golf…

If you’re a stickler for the rules, or happen to be playing in an event that allows rangefinders, simply install the black face plate to make the rangefinder conforming. Both face plates are easy to install, and lock in with a satisfying “click” that lets you know they’re secure.

From Bushnell's Tour X Jolt's product manual.

From Bushnell’s Tour X Jolt’s product manual.

For those technically inclined, below is Bushnell’s literature on how its slope mode works. Keep in mind that Bushnell has been making slope rangefinders for years, and that the Tour X is simply the first product from the company that allows users to switch between slope mode and distance-only mode.

[quote_box_center] The Slope +/-™ mode will automatically compute an angle compensated range based upon distance and slope angle determined by the laser rangefinder and built-in inclinometer. This data is then combined with internal algorithmic formulas dealing with average club use and ball trajectories. The angle compensated range provides direction on how to play the shot. [/quote_box_center]

IMG_7324

The red power button is the “trigger” that activates the unit’s laser to measure yards or meters.

You don’t need to understand the algorithm to know that slope mode will work for you, however. Just ask my playing partners, who started requesting not just the actual yardage on par-3 tee boxes, but the slope yardage as well. It didn’t matter how much elevation change there was on a particular hole, either. Even on the relatively flat courses that are typical in Southeastern Michigan, the Tour X provided slope readings that highlighted shots playing just a few yards yards uphill or downhill. That’s valuable information to have — especially if you’re in between clubs.

Some people might say that level of precision is overkill, but why wouldn’t you want the most accurate possible information if you could have it? For example, I learned that many of the shots at my home course that I thought were flat were actually slightly uphill or downhill, reaffirming member suspicions that certain holes always play a little longer or shorter than the yardage.

IMG_7312

Slide the Dual Display button to the left for a black display, and to the right for a red display.

One thing that’s important to mention about the Tour X’s slope mode is how the slope measurement appears onscreen, because it’s brilliantly executed. When you depress the power button — the trigger that activates the unit’s laser — and identify your target with the aiming circle on the unit’s display, you’ll get the straight-line yardage to your target. It’s not until you release the power button that you get the slope yardage, which is shown below the original number and alternates with the amount of slope (in degrees) that was used along with the yardage to calculate the slope distance.

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 2.25.44 PM

Image from Bushnell Golf

Another new feature is the Tour X’s Dual Display technology, which allows users to choose between a bright-red display and a less-jarring black display. I prefer the black display except in low-light conditions, which I found to be crisper and easier to read.

It should be noted that the Tour X’s red display is nowhere near as bright or as sharp as the Leupold’s GX-4i2, which is the other premium rangefinder that golfers should consider if they’re looking for a unit that measures slope and can still be configured for tournament use. If brightness is what you’re after, it’s the leader in the club house.

IMG_7319

The Tour X with its black face plate, which is legal for play in tournaments that allow rangefinders.

One of my favorite features of the rangefinder, which is a carry over from previous models, is its Jolt technology. For most golfers, it will be far more confidence inspiring than a slope reading, because it can mean the difference in 20 or 30 yards instead of 2 or 3. Jolt engages when a golfer locks onto a flag, and causes the rangefinder to buzz twice. That’s great reassurance that you’ve locked onto the correct target, and not a tree behind the green.

The Takeaway

If you’re not interested in a slope rangefinder, you don’t need the Tour X. There are more affordable options from Bushnell and its competitors that will offer a much better value. Top models include Bushnell’s Tour Z6 Jolt ($399), which is slightly smaller than Tour X, and bargain hunters will likely lean toward Bushnell’s Tour v3 ($299), which is Bushnell’s best-value rangefinder.

If you’re new to slope and interested in what it can do for your game, however, the Tour X’s Exchange Technology and premium features can justify its $499 price point. It will give you the most accurate yardages possible, along with the worthwhile features of Jolt and Dual Display without compromising ease of use.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Pingback: Bushnell Tour X Jolt Review | Medway Golf Blogger

  2. Dave S

    Aug 17, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    Navy SEAL snipers use Leupold optics… think I’ll go with that, thanks.

    • Desmond

      Aug 18, 2015 at 3:15 am

      We’re looking for a flag … not a hidden enemy. Gheez.

      Ysed the Tour X for 3 months. Great. And it is not as large as it seems in the pictures. It is small, have a hard time finding it in the bag pocket where it hides.

  3. Nick

    Aug 15, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    I will say that when I was in college my coach had a laser that measures slope and that helped immensely in being confident in pulling the right club for the shot. It helps when you know the hole plays (+/-) 10 yards.

  4. John

    Aug 15, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    Bushnell has some really nice optics, but for the price you can get much more. Their name carries their price. For a lot cheaper, you can get the same amount of utility.

    • Doc Todd

      Aug 17, 2015 at 6:05 am

      Such as? I have a Leupold, which was a little cheaper, but I waffled between these two.

    • Doc Todd

      Aug 17, 2015 at 6:09 am

      Zac,
      Can you compare this to the equivocal Leupold scope with slope function? I ended up going with the Leupold GX-4 due to slightly cheaper cost and the salesman at GS pushing me that way a little bit. I also noted battery life shorter on the Bushnell than the Leupold. Thanks!

      • Zak Kozuchowski

        May 13, 2016 at 10:00 am

        It’s close, Doc Todd. Usually it comes down to personal preference, or a user placing importance on one specific feature over another, as you did battery life.

        One thing to note is that Leupold’s slope feature is customizable based on a player’s specific club distances. Most will say that Bushnell wins the ease-of-use battle, though.

  5. Mark

    Aug 15, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    Yeah, but if you’re a good player, you know the necessity to know your distances and understand your gapping. Even poor golfers can eventually benefit from knowing yardage. And a good golfer in a practice round, assuming he’s not a PGA Tour professional who has already had a caddie walk out the yardages and use a rangefinder prior to the practice round, will use some method to figure out distances to hazards and key positions. I hope you don’t assume pros go out there blind.

  6. Scooter McGavin

    Aug 15, 2015 at 11:46 am

    I’ll be honest, I still don’t understand the point of having slope in a range finder. If you’re a good golfer and play in tournaments you’re going to want to always practice the way you’re going to play in tournaments… without slope. If you’re not a good golfer then 1)slope is just going to confuse you and 2)you have more important issues to focus on before you worry about slope. Seems like a waste of an extra hundred dollars or more to me.

    • Mark in L'ville, KY

      Aug 15, 2015 at 3:03 pm

      If you play competitively, you generally have the opportunity (like Pros) to play practice rounds. During those rounds, it’s extremely helpful to use the slope feature so that when you get into tournament play, assuming you’re hitting your shots within the same areas of your practice rounds, you will already know that you should play more or less club because of the slope factor. Even if you don’t play competitively, surely there are a few “practice” rounds where you could use it for future knowledge on several of the regular course you may play.

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Accessory Reviews

WRX Spotlight: Swag ball markers and divot tool

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Product: Swag ball markers and divot tool

Pitch:  From Swag: “Swag is the brand that isn’t scared to push the limits in a conservative sport that isn’t evolving to meet changing styles. We like to listen to music on the course, we want to be bold, we love having fun, we love golf, and we’re going to express that both on and off the course. We aren’t going to try to sell you on how great our proprietary materials are and we don’t need to rely on clever marketing to sell more. We’re a no BS company. What matters is that our putters feel good and in turn make you feel good when putting. We have some crazy ideas, we love to tinker, and we experiment on how to perfect everything we do.”

Our take on Swag’s ball markers and divot tool

Swag Golf is creating some of the most sought after products on the market right now, with their funky headcovers and putters all being in high demand. Well, the companies ball markers and divot tool are no different, both of which are easily identifiable as coming from this emerging company who create high-quality products.

The Skull is the companies flagship symbol, and their Stainless Steel Skull Marker their most recognizable marker. The skull marker features black and fluorescent paint, with the bright sunglasses on the marker giving it a vibrant look. 100% CNC milled, the tool contains the companies name engraved on the back of the marker.

A variation on the Skull Marker is the companies Rainbow Skull Marker. Just in case the black and fluorescent paint job on the former wasn’t flashy enough for you, Swag’s Rainbow Skull Marker will make sure to get you noticed, containing the same features as their Skull Marker with a Rainbow PVD finish.

Moving away from their Skull Marker’s, Swag’s St Paddy’s Day Cap Marker is more than worthy of a mention. Identical in size to a bottle cap, the St Paddy’s Day inspired marker features a hand polished golden finish, with the word Swag in green written on the front, while on the back the words “Swag Golf Co.” as well as the company’s philosophy “Don’t give a putt” featured.

The company describe their bottle cap/marker as not being the first bottle cap/marker on the market but “the best one” out there. While I can’t confirm how true that statement is, I can certainly say it is an excellent one.

Swag’s first divot tool is the DTF Divot Tool. Get your head out of the gutter, that stands for “Down To Fix”. The device comes in a black and lime paint job, and an impressive weight of 49 Grams which should ensure that it doesn’t go missing on you.

The divot tool, like their ball markers, is 100% CNC milled and made from 303 Stainless Steel. For a Swag product, the writing and branding on the tool is quite minimalist, and it is as clean and sharp looking a divot tool as I’ve seen from the 2019 releases.

As always with Swag products, the only issue is the limited releases and how quickly the items go, which is no surprise considering the unique products as well as the quality provided. They are, however, continuing to create and release more and more products and their website, as well as their social media sites, are all well worth keeping a close eye on if you’re looking to snag some of the companies top gear in the future.

 

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Accessory Reviews

WRX Spotlight: Swag putter covers

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Product: Swag putter covers

Pitch: From Swag: “Swag is the brand that isn’t scared to push the limits in a conservative sport that isn’t evolving to meet changing styles. We like to listen to music on the course, we want to be bold, we love having fun, we love golf, and we’re going to express that both on and off the course. We aren’t going to try to sell you on how great our proprietary materials are and we don’t need to rely on clever marketing to sell more. We’re a no BS company. What matters is that our putters feel good and in turn make you feel good when putting. We have some crazy ideas, we love to tinker, and we experiment on how to perfect everything we do.”

Our take on Swag putter covers

When it comes to loud, inventive, standout putter covers, Swag never disappoints. Their new series of covers are certainly out there, and the contrast of their range, attention to detail, and excellent all-around quality make these putter covers a must have — if you can get your hands on them.

To start with, Swag’s Lincoln cover is a a real standout. The cover features a bright green background with President Lincoln looking the part in dark shades in the company’s own version of the $5 bill. The detail of the blade putter cover is excellent, with the bright green being the eye catcher and the unmistakable figure of Abraham Lincoln as the centerpiece.

The company also seem very proud of their creation, letting folks clearly know in their description of the cover that it is “not legal tender.” (Just in case you found yourself confused)

The company’s pink Flamingo cover is also a personal favorite, featuring bright colors and cool summer breeze feel. The great detail on the bird with its dark shades, vibrant colors and background of the palm trees make it an ideal cover as we head into the summer months. But it isn’t just the designs. The quality of the fabric and stitching lends for a durable and plush feeling cover too.

It’s worth noting that Swag enthusiast and team member Kevin Streelman is rocking one of the latest Swag putter covers. The American is currently gaming a Swag 2019 Handsome Too Tour with a double fly milled face, and the 40-year-old rocks the Chicago style deep-dish pizza cover to accompany the flat-stick.

Swag is without a doubt a no BS company, and in their putter covers, they have certainly delivered in their aim to be bold and experimental. Perhaps the only disappointment is that all their limited edition putter covers are already sold out, which is an ode to how clever and engaging their designs are. The covers range in price from around $75-$125, and as the company continues to push the boundaries, here’s hoping for more releases in the near future.

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Accessory Reviews

WRX Spotlight: Garmin Approach Z80 laser rangefinder

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Product: Garmin Approach Z80

Pitch: From Garmin: “See the game differently with the Approach Z80 laser range finder with GPS. Laser ranges are accurate to within 10,” so you can take dead aim at the flag. See a full-color CourseView and Green View overlay in 2-D, showing distances to the front and back of the green, plus hazards on more than 41,000 courses worldwide.”

Our take on the Garmin Approach Z80 Laser Rangefinder

In terms of laser rangefinders, the Garmin Approach Z80 does all the little things well and then packs on a bundle of additional features, which makes the product unique.

For starters, one of the coolest features of the Garmin Approach Z80 is the 2D hole layout that appears on the left-hand side of the screen. The image serves as a virtual map of the hole, and offers you a great view of what’s in store next should you either pull or push your shot, making it one of the best rangefinders on the market for use on your tee shots. The rangefinder also allows you to enter your average driving distance, which will automatically suggest where your tee shot should land.

For approach shots, this rangefinder gives you the distance to the front, back and flag which shows up at the bottom of the screen. The Z80 can also provide distances to hazards and bunkers which is very useful for tight pin locations. When locking onto the flag, the rangefinder provides a yellow arc which once more presents you with a view of where you could end up if you hit your number but miss your target.

The rangefinder goes into standby mode after it hasn’t been used for five seconds, a feature which is extremely good for battery life. Once fully charged the ApproachZ80 will easily last you from 3-4 rounds. However, the standby mode does cause it to take slightly more time to load up when using, but we’re only talking 10-20 seconds.

The PinPointer feature which the Approach Z80 features is also very beneficial in that an arrow on the screen will direct you to the hole, whether you’re facing a blind shot, or are out of position. It’s worth noting that the PinPointer feature is also advantageous in that it gives you the yardage to the hole and not just a guide, despite you being unable to see the flag.

All in all, the Garmin Approach Z80 is a top rangefinder with an innovative 2D map of the hole which gives you a tremendous amount of power in that you can not just visualize the hole quickly but also possess a powerful tool for shots off the tee. The small size of the rangefinder is also a major plus, as is its light weight of just 8oz. At $600, it wouldn’t be considered an economical purchase, but in terms of the innovative technologies and benefits, it could still be considered value.

 

 

 

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